By now it is no secret that online shopping exploded during the pandemic. Now called “couch commerce,” consumers stuck at home turned to the Internet to fill pantries, set up home offices (and schools), get fit, and stay entertained.
There’s no indication this trend will abate before the 2020 holiday season. Experts are saying that consumers will congregate around promotions and by Cyber Monday 50% of online holiday shopping will already be completed.
This is the Year of Click-And-Collect
If you aren’t Amazon or Walmart, what are the things you can do to compete? The volume of purchases will put a strain on already busy shipping and fulfillment departments and vendors. Click-and-Collect is going to be a significant opportunity for local brick-and-mortar businesses. Letting customers know that they can avoid shipping delays by buying locally and picking up curbside will become a key holiday message.
Digital advertising is working right now — consumers are online at home on their laptops (vs mobile) in large numbers — direct email advertising to your customer list and retargeting website visitors are expected to deliver the top results.
What products will work with Click-and-Collect? Half of all consumer electronic purchases are now made online, so if you have any nexus products that support digital lives those should be promoted. Apparel (especially those cute outfits for all the summer events we did not attend) will continue to be depressed unless it is leisure and exercise wear. However, pundits have suggested promoting classic comfort and buying before next year’s rush.
Specialty food and alcohol are expected to loom large over house-bound holiday events. As will gift certificates for aspirational gifts.
The early appearance of Prime Day while not necessarily a bump for small businesses is expected to drive product interest across the board and should give you an opportunity to start building holiday purchase retargeting audiences from all those lookie-lous.
Ecommerce has grown 44% year-over-year for the second quarter of 2020. According to the US Department of Commerce, we have seen as much online buying in the past eight weeks as we have in the past 10 years.
Some products won the spending lottery right out of the gate, and hand-sanitizer, toilet paper, and antibacterial wipes really cleaned up <pun intended>. Home baking and gardening products surged, along with sewing machines, bicycles, and home office supplies. High demand brought shortages and long waits for delivery.
It created opportunities for some businesses that had both the right product and the ability to pivot.
At Buzzgen Media our clients continue to be in multiple stages of marketing response — endeavoring to plan for ongoing non-opens without hurting the next full launch. We have some rock stars in the pivot and adapt categories and we’d like to share some of their stories.
Dulles Glass & Mirror in Manassas, VA is one of the largest e-tailers of custom glass online. This is a bit unusual as the construction industry as a whole, and glass manufacturers and sellers, in particular, can still be strongly pen-and-paper based. We all have the image of a contractor who pencils out measurements on graph paper and scratches details in the margin for estimates of our home improvement projects.
Bahram Nasehi took over the business 12 years ago and deeply invested in automation – including maintaining his own technology department. He became the first custom glass retailer online and has recently “changed the world of shower doors” with an app that allows easy measurement and purchase of custom shower doors that are shipped across the US.
Once the pandemic hit, the technology team was tasked with finding products to monetize and bring in revenue. COVID-19 has changed the world of shopping, and as luck would have it, not a lot of glass retailers were online and Nasehi was fully prepared to pivot and cope.
One new product that was launched was the now ubiquitous glass guards that we see in retail and service workplaces. Dulles Glass was designing and building items that were helping to turn essential workplaces into safe environments for customers and employees. Nasehi says that local government programs were key in helping the business launch this product.
“Needless to say, you need a little bit of luck. We were given lemons during the pandemic, but our lemons were fresh and could be squeezed,” Nasehi said. He also noted that other businesses, including some he is involved with, are stalled and won’t be back until after COVID-19.
Dulles Glass has continued its pre-pandemic marketing activities. “Marketing strategy is the window to opportunity in any business. You have to be nimble; you have to be able to shift. You have to go after your opportunities and market them.”
As for the budget, Nasehi said that budget should be based on return. “If I am getting a 6 or 7x return, why would I spend only $100? You leave your budget open until it can’t bring in anymore (revenue),” he said. Staying in the market has had other advantages, with less competition digital campaigns have seen large CPC and cost per lead drops.
During the pandemic, Dulles has experienced a surge in new business leads and a reduction in advertising costs, by as much as 40%. We attribute this to the fact that many competitors pulled out of the market, thus lowering the media costs and reducing the competition.
Currently, Dulles Glass is re-tooling the glass guard campaigns as restrictions on COVID-19 and pandemic wording is changing (yet again). For a while, publishers were not allowing ads to use words that called out the virus making it particularly difficult for products that were safety-related.
Check out Dulles Glass & Mirror products and offerings, besides showers and custom glass, they offer gym mirrors, shelves, and tabletops, with free shipping nationwide.
Lions Clubs International Foundations (LCIF) needed to launch a Facebook page in order to be able to receive donations via Facebook’s non-profit donation tools. But, starting a new page in 2019 – as organic growth on Facebook across the board dwindled to a trickle – was a huge challenge.
Who is LCIF:
LCIF – Lions Clubs International Foundation – is the charitable giving arm of Lions Clubs International (LCI), a global 1.4-million-member service organization that has been around for 100+ years. Lions Clubs International is focused on its members and service clubs, while the Foundation receives charitable donations and delivers those donations in the forms of grants to support local and global humanitarian efforts.
Low organic growth: The median organic growth for a Facebook page is between 25 and 88 followers per month (0.64% to 2.22% per week). Non-profits typically fall on the lower end of that scale.
Missing a key donation channel: Since 2018, Facebook has been emerging as a transformative online giving channel. Some non-profits have seen more donations via Facebook than all of their other digital channels combined (that’s email, web giving, digital ads, search, and monthly donors).
In for the win:
In order to create a donation platform of some significance a large and varied audience would be needed.
Buzzgen Media paired up organic strategies:
- Targeted editorial calendar
- Active social listening to boost engagement
- Adjusted post frequency
- Strategized best practices editorial – copy, images, and video
With a combination of boosted posts and a clever mix of advertising campaigns (reach, like, and conversion objectives) that were highly optimized to supercharge the follower growth.
Buzzgen Media was able to grow LCIF’s Facebook page grow to 100,000 followers in six months. Those followers went on to create more than 1,000 Facebook Fundraisers in the first few months, resulting in a new donation stream for LCIF that was expected to reach 6 figures in under 18-months.
In 2012, Stanford Graduate School of Business was looking to increase applications to their Executive Education, MBA, and PhD programs using digital channels. At the time Buzzgen began working with them they were not using any paid search or paid social marketing, but were relying on email marketing, direct mailers, and alumni channels to fill their GSB classes.
Who is Stanford GSB:
Since 1925, Stanford GSB has been home to bold thinking, rigorous teaching, and breakthrough research. The University is closely aligned with Silicon Valley, both in who they are and how they think – entrepreneurial, open-minded, and eager to tackle problems – in business and beyond.* They offer non-degree, certificate and full-time degree programs for post-graduate students.
High-end product: This product is highly targeted to a niche market and tuition’s can range from $20,000 to $100,000 for programs that last from three months to more than a year to complete.
No tracking, no digital history: Prior to 2012, Stanford was not collecting any digital data on its programs, online landing pages, or organic social impact on applications.
In for the win:
In four years of working with Stanford GSB, Buzzgen was able to help them go from:
- 6 programs offered online to 14
- No tracking to being able to show ROAS by publisher and channel
- Spending $0 on SEM to having SEM become the #1 source of applications
- Reducing agency fees to 13% of their budget
- 48 applications a year to 231 applications a year
The thing we love about social media is that it shows the vast range of things everyone is doing – traveling, cooking, showing off art (whether that’s photography, nail, hair, makeup, music, flowers, etc.), communicating about issues, work environments, and kids and family.
Businesses have been heavily leveraging this effective medium for at least a decade now – if not longer, and in an unprecedented situation, we now are asked to curtail our social activities. It’s #Stay<bleep>TheHome.
What does that mean for industries that are focused on travel, cooking, and art?
The first thing you need to do is think through a yes-no scenario.
Yes, things are going to get better. No, things are getting worse. Though it sounds terrible (and no one likes a Debbie Downer), this allows you to pick and choose content according to what’s happening in an ever-changing landscape. And you don’t get boxed into a one-direction strategy.
We are now almost all on lock-down. The next bad case scenario is that 1) we stay on lockdown much longer than expected 2) People begin behaving badly and martial law gets enacted.
Best possible case scenarios are 1) WFH provides levity and personal opportunity, 2) things resolve quickly, and the economy rebounds.
So, based on that thinking how does your social look?
First, you are posting WAY less. One or two posts a week are going to be sufficient. This is practical since you won’t have new imagery, your staff isn’t readily available, AND brand traffic on social has crashed. No one is really paying a lot of attention to the things they can’t do (like travel).
Examples of best-case scenario posts are:
- Quick updates on the business – even calling out what some of your employees might be doing remotely.
- Asking questions – How are you spending your time? What are you working on?
- Offering a bit of Zen – Are you meditating today? Here’s an image/thought/etc. to add to your positive health. Helping your audience set intentions and push away the anxiety.
- Letting your customers know you are thinking of them.
- If you have the opportunity, do something fun like lead guided meditations.
- Or take a teachable moment – how to do nail art, best massage techniques, cooking from the pantry. YouTube channels are not that hard to set up if you don’t already have one.
- Bring back the ThrowBack Thursday UGC, and other (more generic) images that are still relevant. Mother Earth is flourishing in our neighborhood.
You should also be doing your social media manually. IF worst-case scenario happens – looting, for example – you don’t want your social to appear frivolously against news of civil unrest.
Sorry to throw that dark cloud out there, but it’s best to think about it in order to be prepared.